MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila is notorious for traffic jams.
The country is losing money, as people’s productive hours slip away in traffic.
A study by the National Center for Transportation Studies says traffic in Metro Manila cost the country 137.5 billion pesos in 2011.
The loss in productivity is almost as much as two months worth of remittances and equivalent to 1.4% of the total Philippine economy.
“Even I was shocked, even Secretary Balisacan was shocked. It just drives home a certain point to all of us in government that we all know that infrastructure is the basic foundation for our economic growth,” explains , Transportation Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco.
Many of the new roads and railways that could decongest traffic have not been built.
The bidding process that awards projects to private companies is delayed.
Two companies want to link the major toll roads — NLEX in the north and SLEX in the south — to ease traffic in metro manila.
Government hasn’t formally awarded either of the two proposed connector roads and neither can move forward with construction.
The government already missed some of its initial bid deadlines that would extend the existing light rail to Bacoor, Cavite. Construction is a distant goal, eyed in 2014.
Aside from road and rail projects, new or improved airports promised by the Aquino government also face delays.
Of the 5 promised public private airport projects that will bring more tourists and businessmen to the Philippines, none have been bid out. A new Panglao airport is nowhere in sight.
And Puerto Princesa, the jump-off point to the world renowned Underground River, is already bursting at the seams.
Two years since infrastructure was touted as the key source of economic growth, only 1 in the growing list of infrastructure projects has been awarded.
These delays are the constraints in potential investments.
Local banks and foreign investors are eager to finance these projects.
“It does generate a lot of investment, of investment interest. I just hope that it will come to us sooner,” shared BDO Unibank Inc. chair Teresita Sy-Coson
The Philippines can not afford to slow down as it gears up to be more competitive in the global economic race.
Katherine Visconti, Rappler, Manila – Rappler.com
(Videography by Charles Salazar, Patricia Evangelista and Katherine Visconti)